SACW | July 5-7, 2009 / Sri Lanka future / Nepal Women's representation / Indo Pak Peace Activists Meet / Law / Secularism / Govt Spending / Tyeb Mehta / Abortion services censored out on Google AdWords
aiindex at gmail.com
Mon Jul 6 22:11:58 CDT 2009
South Asia Citizens Wire | July 5-7, 2009 | Dispatch No. 2641 - Year
[ SACW Dispatches for 2009-2010 are dedicated to the memory of Dr.
Sudarshan Punhani (1933-2009), husband of Professor Tamara Zakon and
a comrade and friend of Daya Varma ]
 Sri Lanka: There is only one way to national solidarity (Shanie)
+ Leading light of leftist movement in Sri Lanka dead (B.
 Nepal: Take a stand: Women must boldly seek 50 per cent
representation (Mallika Aryal)
 Pakistan - India Peace Activists Push for Peace
 Pakistan: Domestic violence (Editorial, Dawn)
 Bangladesh: Alauddin Al Azad: the lonely tower (Zakeria Shirazi)
 India - Double Standards in Law and Justice: Critique and
- Law and Behold (Anand Patwardhan)
- From ‘perversion’ to right to life with dignity (Kalpana
- A 'Common Front' for The Marginalized in India: Gay Activist
Works to Build Broad-Based Political Party (Emily Wax)
- Catholic, Muslim, Hindu Moral Police United in Homophobia :
Cartoon in Mail Today, 6 July 2009
 Right and Wrong in India's Secular Republic
- India: Maharashtra Govt's Unacceptable Probe Into Inter-
- Why it is important to punish Varun Gandhi (Mail Today)
 India's Budget Announced : Appreciation and Criticism
- Steep 34% hike in defence budget - Up to $29 Billion
- India’s Budget 2009-10: A Preliminary Note (Sukla Sen)
- Budget ticks food-work poll promises with paltry sums
 Tributes: Tyeb Mehta - (1925-2009)
- Message from Sahmat
- Tyeb Mehta, Painter of Emerging India, Dies at 84 (Holland
 International: Abortion services censored out on Google AdWords:
Sign on the letter to protest to Google (A siawi.org Alert)
- Dialogue on Transboundary Water Management: Issues and
Concerns (Dhaka, 14 July 2007)
- International Conference: Embracing the Displaced (Los
Angeles, July 7-10 2009)
 Sri Lanka:
The Island, 4 July 2009
THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY TO NATIONAL SOLIDARITY
Notebook of A Nobody
Sri Lanka has for far too long been held hostage by the extremist
forces. These were the vocal elements on both sides of the ethnic
divide who strangulated and silenced the moderates. We noted in our
column last week the effect of the vocal extremist elements among the
Sinhalese on enactment of the Sinhala Only Bill. Banadaranaike’s
original draft bill, while enforcing Sinhala as the sole official
language, had also provision for the use of Tamil. But the extremists
would have none of it. L H Mettananda, the spokesperson for the
extremist group of political activists, declared that ‘conferring the
legal right on the Tamil-speaking minority to communicate with the
government in their own language’ violated a "pledge" given by the
government and demanded its removal. Sadly, the liberal elements
within the government, which included Prime Minister Bandaranaike,
meekly capitulated and that provision in the draft Bill was dropped
and the Mettananda draft adopted.
A few liberal elements within the coalition of parties, like Wilmot
Perera, had earlier taken a principled stand and, although a sitting
Member of Parliament, had refused to stand for re-election at the
1956 General Election in protest at the communalist line taken by the
MEP coalition. By then, even the UNP, an eve-of-the-election convert
to Sinhala only, had capitulated to extremism. This led to its Tamil
allies resigning from the government with G G Ponnambalam stating in
his resignation speech, ‘After five years of co-operation, I yet see
unmistakable signs of the desire for the establishment of racial
hegemony under the guise of majority rule…. I now find myself a more
determined advocate of Tamil nationalism.’
On the other side of the ethnic divide, we thus found Tamil
nationalism being articulated more forcefully. By the nineteen
seventies, militant youth groups were being formed in the North. They
engaged in banditry, including armed robberies of banks. Some of
these militants formed the youth wing of the TULF, which by then had
a near monopoly of parliamentary representation in the North. The
death of S J V Chelvanayakam had removed from Tamil politics a father-
figure. The militant youth now began to be more assertive and began
assassinating political dissidents. In the end, the TULF and its
later manifestation, the TNA, also succumbed to the militants’
separatism and fascism.
Standing up against extremism
Thus the failure of the moderate voices among both the Sinhalese and
the Tamils to stand up to extremists had led to a real divide among
our people. The LTTE had choked the moderate and liberal voices among
the Tamil civil society by assassinations (Rajini Tiranagama, Neelan
Tiruchelvam, Kethesh Loganathan et al), by driving them underground
(Rajan Hoole, K Sritharan, V Anandasangaree et al) or by simply
silencing others with death threats. But it is tragic that forces
obviously close to the government, including para-military groups,
are now engaging in activities similar to that of the LTTE. The
strategy seems to be to intimidate the dissident voices into silence.
All the despicable weaponry employed by the LTTE - the
assassinations, physical assaults, threats of death and violence,
abductions and arbitrary arrests and incarceration are being used
against dissidents and as a warning to potential dissidents. The
great danger in this strategy is that a culture of violence becomes
entrenched in society, with all its ruthlessness and brutality, and a
refusal to try to understand the other’s viewpoint. And, as Nehru
warned, the future thus becomes conditioned and more wars and
conflicts will follow with all their attendant consequences.
With the elimination of the LTTE, independent voices among the Tamils
now find greater expression; although in the run-up to the local
government elections in Jaffna city and the Vavuniya town, there are
disturbing reports of a para-military group now turned political
party engaging unchallenged in various questionable practices,
including intimidation of and violence against opponents, burning of
newspapers and death threats against journalists. But elsewhere, the
response to sane and moderate voices among the minorities like the
‘group of concerned Tamils’, Izeth Hussain and even the University
Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna) is typical of a majoritarian
mindset that is re-emerging in the country.
Listening to moderate minority voices
President Rajapaksa has stated, and there is nothing to doubt the
sincerity of what he stated, that the task before us is to re-
integrate the minorities into the national life of this country and
that he intends reaching out to them. The many writers to the
political columns and opinion pages of the media do not seem share
the President Rajapaksa’s sentiments. For instance, the plea of the
group of ‘Concerned Tamils’ for a speedy resolution of the IDP issue
has received a hostile and abusive response from these elements.
Almost all the pleas of this group are stated government policy. The
group has only asked for a speedier and more transparent
implementation of this policy. Their statement had stated, after
listing some basic needs at the camps which are in line with
government policy: ‘We ask for a quick and effective delivery on all
these (above) issues as this would help alleviate the plight of the
people who have already undergone extreme hardship.’ Then after
urging a speedy return to civil administration, again stated
government policy, the statement urges the re-settlement programme to
include all persons, internally displaced even before the current
phase of the war. They specifically refer to persons of all ethnic
communities, whether displaced ‘in the course of war or in acts of
ethnic cleansing’, an obvious reference to the Northern Muslims
ethnically cleansed by the LTTE.
One political columnist finds exception to that part of the statement
where it is stated, ‘To avoid further conflict erupting and to assist
in nation building, the causes of the war need to be addressed
effectively and without delay. We welcome the reference in the Human
Rights Council Resolution adopted on May 27, 2009 to the commitment
of the President of Sri Lanka " to a political solution with the
implementation of the 13th Amendment[ and to a broader dialogue with
all parties in order to enhance the process of political settlement
and to bring about lasting peace and development in Sri Lanka based
on consensus among and respect for the rights of all ethnic and
religious group inhabiting it."
A political package acceptable to all ethnic groups does need to be
worked out and implemented without delay, drawing inspiration from
but going beyond the various earlier proposals developed over the
decades. That political package would provide for the equality of all
the citizens, for regional autonomy and for the integrity of Sri
Lanka.’ This political columnist takes particular exception to the
statement that seeks a package ‘drawing inspiration from but going
beyond earlier proposals.’ The Government is committed to
implementing the 13th Amendment which became part of the law of the
country over twenty years ago. Since then, there have been various
proposals that went beyond the 13th amendment. If the Government in
its wisdom now seeks new or amending constitutional provision, it
will be because it wants to go beyond the 13th amendment adopted two
decades ago, and ensure, as the concerned Tamils have stated, that
there is a political settlement based on ‘consensus among and respect
for the rights of all ethnic and religious groups’ and providing for
‘the equality of all citizens, for regional autonomy and for the
integrity of Sri Lanka.’ Surely, this is a moderate voice that needs
to be listened to with respect, And surely, these are voices that
could easily have come from concerned Sinhalese or concerned Muslims.
The same political columnist dismisses the ‘Concerned Tamils’ as
unknowns. This distinguished group of Tamils, in fact, comprises well
known moderate and pluralist voices. As far as this columnist is
aware, not one of them is known to have had any links with Tamil
militancy. Indeed, some of them have been courageous and open critics
of the Tamil militant groups, particularly the LTTE.
Sri Lanka’s ethnic relations have taken a nose-dive because these
extremist elements attempt to intimidate and silence the moderates.
Those within an ethnic community who spoke for the rights of the
other communities are labelled ‘traitors’. The moderate voices among
the other communities were also abused and vilified and their voices
not allowed to be heard. Thus, only the extremists, whose voice was
the gun and sword, came to be heard. Let the moderates and the
liberals not only raise their voices but also ensure that parallel
moderate voices from other communities are heard. Let us learn the
lessons of history and not allow the extremists and chauvinists to
continue holding us hostages.
o o o
The Hindu, 7 July 2009
LEADING LIGHT OF LEFTIST MOVEMENT IN SRI LANKA DEAD
by B. Muralidhar Reddy
Caroline Anthony Pillai
COLOMBO: A leading light of the early leftist movement in Ceylon and
wife of S.C.C. Anthony Pillai, Dona Caroline Rupasinghe Gunawardena,
passed away in Kosogama, on the outskirts of Colombo on Monday. She
would have turned 101 on October 8.
Media Director of Presidential Secretariat Lucien Rajakarunanayake
says, “The void created by her death cannot be filled. She was and
would continue to be a legend.”
In the words of S. Muthiah, she was “the last living link with the
early leftist movement in the Ceylon that is now Sri Lanka… spent
much of her life in India, but gradually became less of a
revolutionary and more of a helpmate to her husband in the labour
movement in Madras.”
‘A unique marriage’
The marriage of Dona and Anthony in itself was unique in many ways.
S.C.C. Anthony Pillai joined the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) in
1936 and party and the leadership soon felt he had the makings of a
good trade union leader. But he needed to know Sinhalese and Philip
Gunawardena suggested he take lessons from Caroline. “The language
lessons led to marriage for life,” Mr. Rajakarunanayake says.
In his tribute to ‘labour leaders from Ceylon’ in The Hindu dated
February 23, Mr. Muthiah says, “Charles W Ervin, who has written
about the Trotskyite movement in Ceylon” says, “In many ways Caroline
and Tony were worlds apart. He was cool and calculating, she was
impetuous. He was a Tamil, she was a Sinhalese. His parents were
Christian, her’s Buddhist. He was 24 years old, she was 30. Yet the
two became close and fell in love. In 1939 they were married…”
Immediately the Party asked them to move to Ceylon’s central
highlands and, together, despite harassment by both the planters and
the authorities, they helped to organise the labour.
“World War II only made the authorities get tougher with the LSSP,
and in July 1942 several of its leaders secretly fled to India…
Anthony Pillai went underground in Madurai.” Anthony Pillai was
arrested in March 1947 and Caroline took over the task of addressing
public meeting after meeting.
26 June 2009 - 02 July 2009
TAKE A STAND: WOMEN MUST BOLDLY SEEK 50 PER CENT REPRESENTATION
by Mallika Aryal
Last year's CA elections gave women 33 per cent of seats in the
assembly and gave Nepal and South Asia good reason to celebrate. It
was a fantastic victory for women across the region. In many
constituencies women leaders from new parties crushed veteran male
leaders from old parties. New women leaders were born and there was
no stopping them.
Although the ratio of 33 per cent female representation was
stipulated in the interim constitution, many feared the political
parties would not adhere to it, but the women's lobby was so strong
that they would not settle for anything less.
Not all of the women elected were political party leaders. Some were
war widows and others had no training in politics. Some experts
worried that since the process of constitution-writing involves a lot
of legal matters those lacking the right education, experience or
training may not cope.
The challenge for the veteran political party leaders and the women's
lobby groups who fought so hard for greater representation to prove
the skeptics wrong was a big one. But just because there are more
women in the constituent assembly does not exactly mean the struggle
for women is over.
The main agenda of the political leadership was not to get distracted
from the constitution-writing process. There is no doubt that issues
surrounding federalism, inclusion, ethnicity and representation of
minorities are of great importance in the new constitution, but so
are issues relating to women and children's rights.
Despite their initial victory the women CA members still haven't been
able to discuss and channel their issues through the 11 committees,
though each has at least one female member. Women CA members also
claim they haven't forgotten what they promised and assure that their
fight is still for 50 per cent representation in all sectors. So why
is it that at a time when women's voices regarding equality in
judiciary and administration should be the strongest that we do not
hear them at all?
These are not new questions and women CA members have recognised
their weakness in raising their voices in the CA. This is perhaps why
a caucus has been formed in the assembly which will discuss and push
these issues through but that alliance too is still very weak.
Women CA members were not elected to voice only women's issues in the
assembly but it is important to keep it in mind that there is no one
else who is going to do it for them. Asking for 50 per cent
representation is not an unreasonable demand. Women make up 51 per
cent of the total population of Nepal so why should they feel any
sense of discomfort in asking for 50 per cent representation in the
Nepali society is not going to change overnight. Waiting for the
patriarchy to end is a waste of time. During the collection of
suggestions for the new constitution, CA members were warned by
people all over Nepal not to repeat the mistakes of the past, to
think beyond the Valley and speak up for the people who put their
future in the hands of the elected members.
It is not too late for the caucus in the assembly to gain in
strength. The women's movement all over Nepal must understand that
the fight for equal rights is not over just because more women are in
the CA. And it is important that the CA members do not forget that
they are responsible for the women in the far west who die of
sicknesses that are so simple to cure, of the women who live with a
prolapsed uterus for most of their adult lives because they do not
have health facilities, of the young brides in the Tarai and the
hills who are beaten up and kicked out of their homes because they
did not bring in enough dowry, or of the young girls who are burnt
because they are 'witches', of the widows of war who are waiting for
reparation, and of the wives who wait every day for their husbands
who were disappeared during the war years to come back.
 Pakistan - India: Peace Activists Push for Peace
Resume the Peace Process / Free detained fishermen - A compilation of
news reports from Pakistani Press
a. Activists want S. Asia peace process revived
b. Pakistan, India urged to free detained fishermen
c. Release of 700 fishermen in India, Pak demanded
d. Pak, India must put visible demarcation in Arabian Sea
e. Families distressed as fishermen languish in Indian jails
f. News Clippings of reports on "Promoting Peace in South Asia
and Remembering Didi Nirmala Deshpande"
KARACHI: ACTIVISTS WANT S. ASIA PEACE PROCESS REVIVED
by Our Staff Reporter
Saturday, 04 July, 2009 | 01:21 AM PST
KARACHI, July 3: A group of Indian human rights activists and
journalists, currently on a visit to Pakistan, have said that the
people of the subcontinent want peace and friendship, but certain
vested interests always try to sabotage peace moves.They stressed the
need for restoration of the peace process between the two countries
which came to a halt following the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
The members of the Indian delegation, comprising Sandeep Pandey,
scientist-turned-human rights activist from Lucknow; Kavita
Srivastava, human rights activist from Rajasthan; and Jatin Desai,
senior journalist from Mumbai, were speaking at a reception hosted by
the Karachi Press Club here on Friday.
Mr Shaukat, who is a journalist from Hyderabad Deccan, joined the
Indian delegation in Karachi.
Mr Desai said that if the Composite Dialogue process, under which
four rounds of talks on issues like Kashmir, Siachen, and detained
fishermen were held, had not stalled, it would have had certainly
gone a long way towards finding a solution to the long-standing
problems casting a shadow on the ties between the two countries.
However, he hoped that during the upcoming Non-Aligned Movement
summit in Egypt, the leaders of Pakistan and India would not restrict
themselves to the issue of terrorism, but would take up all issues
concerning the peoples of the two countries. “They can at least make
progress on the issue of detained Pakistani and Indian fishermen to
reduce their miseries and problems,” he said.
He urged the Indian government to withdraw its travel advisory
Ms Srivastava criticised the Indian media for creating ‘war hysteria’
after the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
She appreciated the role of the Pakistani media for maintaining
objectivity in reporting. She said that it was high time for the
civil society of the two countries to take the peace process as a
challenge and give it a top priority to increase pressure on the
governments to revive it.
Mr Shaukat said that the basic issue was the removal of the ‘walls of
hatred’ between the two countries.
In this regard, he said, journalists could play an important role by
maintaining objectivity in their work.
He welcomed the move for setting up a joint forum of Pakistani and
Indian journalists for the promotion of peace between the two countries.
Earlier, KPC President Imtiaz Faran and Secretary A.H. Khanzada
welcomed the guests and presented them Ajraks and KPC brochures.
o o o
Dawn, 6 July, 2009
KARACHI: PAKISTAN, INDIA URGED TO FREE DETAINED FISHERMEN
by Our Staff Reporter
KARACHI, July 5: The South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication on
Sunday urged the governments of Pakistan and India to release and
repatriate all fishermen being kept in their prisons.
A three-member delegation of the SAAPE, currently visiting the
country, said this while speaking at a press conference held here at
the Karachi Press Club on Sunday.
Representatives of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum and some other civil
society organisations were also present.
They maintained that the marine boundaries between the two
neighbouring countries were not well-defined so fishermen from one
country often strayed into the territorial waters of the other by
mistake, which resulted in their arrest by the maritime security
The fishermen remained in prisons for years while their boats and
fishing trawlers were confiscated, they added.
They said that at present some 110 Pakistani fishermen were kept in
Indian prisons while some 550 Indian fishermen had been languishing
in Pakistani jails. In the past two decades, at least 18 Pakistani
fishermen died in Indian jails while eight Indian fishermen died
while in captivity in Pakistani jails, they said.
They criticised the procedure being followed by the two governments
for the release of the fishermen, as according to the procedure if
India releases 100 fishermen, Pakistan would also release the same
number of fishermen and not more.
The delegates demanded that all fishermen be released immediately and
their boats be returned to them while the governments should pay them
compensation for their seized fish catch.
They demanded that in future no fishermen should be arrested for
straying into the waters of the neighbouring country and when caught
they should be released after being given a warning.
Indian delegates Kavita Srivastava, Dr Sandeep Pandey and Jatin Desai
spoke while Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum chief Mohammad Ali Shah, Iqbal
Haider of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and Karamat Ali of
the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research also spoke.
o o o
Daily Times, July 06, 2009
RELEASE OF 700 FISHERMEN IN INDIA, PAK DEMANDED
KARACHI: Like the 1971 prisoners of war, families of fishermen on
both sides of the Indo-Pak border are waiting for the release of
their loved ones for the last several decades while tension between
the rival nuclear countries have tightened diplomatic relations. Data
compiled by peace activists from both countries reveal that 700
fishermen from India and Pakistan (576 Indian fishermen and 123
Pakistani fishermen) are in jails on both sides of the border and
await their return home. Peace activists from India and Pakistan have
demanded that both governments immediately release the 700 detained
fishermen as well as asked both the countries to accelerate the peace
process and immediately resolve the controversial Sir Creek issue by
demarcating boundaries. “Long term tension between both the countries
would not be resolved until the controversy of Sir Creek is not
resolved. Therefore, both countries must accelerate the peace process
for the betterment of the region,” said Pakistan Institute of Labour
Education and Research’s (PILER) Karamat Ali. Addressing a press
conference over the detained fishermen issue at Karachi Press Club on
Sunday with an Indian delegation, Ali said that for peace in South
Asia, peace between India and Pakistan is necessary. Kavita
Shrivastva, a human rights activist from the Indian state of
Rajasthan said that the issue of fishermen is serious as due to
tension between both the countries, the poor fishermen and their
families suffer. amar guriro
o o o
The Nation, July 6, 2009
PAK, INDIA MUST PUT VISIBLE DEMARCATION IN ARABIAN SEA
by Shafi Baloch
KARACHI - The Pakistani and Indian civil society have announced to
launch a campaign to release the detained fishermen of India and
Addressing the Press conference at Karachi Press Club on Sunday,
representatives of both the counties said that millions of fishermen
of both India and Pakistan had been victimised by the authorities of
both the countries due to their prolong and unsettled disputes.
The Press conference was addressed by Karamat Ali of Pakistan
Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), Mohamad Ali Shah
of Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), Syed Iqbal Haider of Human Rights
Council of Pakistan (HRCP), Kavita Srivastave of Peoples Union of
India, Dr Sandeep Pandey, a human rights activist in India, Jatin
Desai, an activist of fishermen rights in India, and others. “On
behalf of South Asian Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE), they
have decided to take up the issue of detained fishermen by launching
a regional-level campaign. The fishermen of both the countries are
frequently attacked, arrested and even killed by naval forces of both
the countries and their fishing boats are confiscated,” they added.
They said that the poor fishermen were put in prisons for years in
the charges of crossing the water zones of their respective
countries, and they were also not produced in any court of law for
They further said that delay in Sir Creek border issue were creating
miseries for fishermen, since there was no visible demarcation in the
sea water between India and Pakistan. Therefore, the fishermen of
both the countries easily stray into the water zones of each other’s
country due to severe weather.
o o o
FAMILIES DISTRESSED AS FISHERMEN LANGUISH IN INDIAN JAILS
The News, June 20, 2009
by Jan Khaskheli
Haji Yousuf Katiar, 80, is disappointed because the government
authorities did not pay heed to his request to help get his two sons
released. His two sons – the only bread-winners of his family – are
languishing in an Indian prison for the last few months along with 22
others. Katiar hails from Atharki, a coastal village (in Thatta) that
has lost several men in disasters and boat accidents. At present, 24
fishermen of the village are languishing in Indian jails.
The depressed father is angry at the officials representing the
government-run Fishermen Cooperative Society (FCS), which, according
to him, has done nothing to support the families back home in the
absence of their bread-winners.
FCS is a community welfare body that should have announced support to
the people in difficult times, but failed to do so, the affected
families said. The people of coastal Thatta are vulnerable to
cyclones, disasters and floods. They are also victims of Indian
border security forces that arrest them while they are engaged in
fishing in the open waters, and also confiscate their vessels and
The plight of Jumo Katiar, Mohammed, Abdul Ghani and others like them
are similar as the old men are unable to support their families.
The locality, with a population of 7,000, has been deprived of basic
facilities. Given the plight of these families, it seems that these
people are neither on the agenda of the authorities, nor do they have
the support of the human rights groups.
Women, mostly wives, mothers, sisters and children of the detained
people appeared distressed while narrating their ordeal, clearly
waiting to receive the men of their families. The mothers seemed
anxious about their daughters, as they believe their fathers’
presence is essential to arrange their marriages.
The women also said they were nearly starving. Children are unable to
go to schools and in case of health problems; they do not know where
to go for help. According to the elders, they have several offices
and residences of legislators as well as the local influential people
for help but realised that the votes they cast are useless because no
one has taken note of their complaints.
However, the credit goes to the area’s youth who collected donations
at the local level so that the village school would become
functional. The latter has 70 children enrolled are being taught by
one teacher. They are optimistic about the future generation. Some
elders of the locality said that they have lost 12 people who were
murdered by the neighbouring country’s border forces while they were
out fishing in the open sea.
According to the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), there are 150
Pakistani fishermen in Indian jails while around 500 Indian fishermen
are languishing in Pakistani jails. PFF activist Gulab Shah said that
seven months ago, the 24 fishermen belonging to Atharki village were
caught from Kajir Creek along with three vessels. The creek from
where these people were caught comes under Pakistani territory.
PFF said it has launched an effective campaign to raise its voice in
the parliament so that both countries can make the issue of detained
fishermen a part of their agenda during future dialogue. The PFF
claimed it has the support of international fishermen organisations,
local human rights and civil society organisations, and will arrange
seminars and protests in the federal capital of Islamabad. They urged
the need to find a permanent solution for controversial sea territory
so that the fishermen can earn a living in peace.
o o o
NEWS CLIPPINGS OF REPORTS ON "PROMOTING PEACE IN SOUTH ASIA AND
REMEMBERING 'DIDI' NIRMALA DESHPANDE"
Dawn, 6 July 2009
EDITORIAL: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Treating violence against women, including domestic abuse, as a crime
will give protection to victims in meaningful terms. - File photo
A monitoring exercise conducted by the law firm AGHS shows that from
April to June this year, 122 cases of women being burnt were reported
in Lahore. Of them, 21 women had acid burns while the rest were
injured by direct exposure to flames. Forty victims died.
Disturbingly, the figures have doubled as compared to the first
quarter of the year. These cases constitute merely the tip of the
frightening iceberg of violence against Pakistan’s women. The figures
reported above apply to Lahore but are unlikely to be lower in other
parts of the country. Indeed, one wonders how many cases go
unreported. The forms of coercion range from emotional and economic
abuse to gross violations of constitutional and human rights,
including rape, burning and being handed over as settlement in
disputes. Last year, at least two women were believed to have been
buried alive in Balochistan. That a sitting parliamentarian defended
the act as a ‘tribal custom’ reflects just how endemic violence
against women has become in the country.
It is important to note that much of the violence against women,
particularly in the domestic sphere, goes unreported. Legislation in
this regard, meanwhile, has been indefensibly slow. Work on
formulating a bill at the federal level against domestic violence was
first initiated in December 2006. Two private members’ bills were
combined and approved by the National Assembly’s standing committee
on women’s development in April 2007. The assembly’s term lapsed
before the bill could be passed, however. In March this year, the
National Assembly’s standing committee on women’s development
unanimously approved the Prevention of Domestic Violence Bill 2008.
But little further progress has been reported so far.
That violence against women continues to rise is perhaps symptomatic
of the steady brutalisation that Pakistani society has suffered over
the past many decades. It is imperative that effective legislation be
devised to not only protect women against abuse, both domestic and
otherwise, but also bring the persecutors to book. Treating violence
against women, including domestic abuse, as a crime will give
protection to victims in meaningful terms.
ALAUDDIN AL AZAD: THE LONELY TOWER
With the death of Alauddin Al Azad last Friday night at his home in
Uttara, the rank of the revered poets and writers whose names are
associated both with the language movement and the liberation war has
been decimated almost to the point of extinction, writes Zakeria Shirazi
 India: The Double Standards in the Legal System - Critique and
Hindustan Times, June 30, 2009
LAW AND BEHOLD
by Anand Patwardhan
Nothing better illustrates the flaws in our legal and political
system than a comparison of the treatment meted out to Binayak Sen in
Chhattisgarh and that enjoyed by State Reserve Police Force (SRPF)
Sub-Inspector Manohar Kadam in Mumbai.
After spending two full years as an undertrial in a Chhattisgarh
prison, Sen is out on bail. A civil liberties activist, he was
falsely accused of aiding Naxalites primarily because he exposed
atrocities committed by the State through its ‘Salwa Judum’ campaign.
The prosecution failed to turn up any evidence against him while the
State steadfastly denied him bail without bothering to give reasons.
Police Sub-Inspector Manohar Kadam, on the other hand, was found
guilty by the government-appointed Gundewar Commission of being
directly responsible for an unjustified police firing that claimed
the lives of ten Dalits protesting the desecration of B.R. Ambedkar’s
statue at Ramabai Colony, Mumbai, in July 1997. Kadam remained a free
man as the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance ruling Maharashtra refused to take
effective action on the commission’s findings. In large measure for
their anti-poor, anti-Dalit policies, these right-wing political
forces were defeated in the state elections and a Congress-led
alliance came to power in 1998. Despite pre-election promises, this
alliance also took no action.
In 2001, as a result of two Dalit writ petitions, the Bombay High
Court ordered an end to the inaction. The government filed an FIR
against Kadam, but he was taken to hospital and then granted bail.
Further proceedings remained stalled for many more years though the
police initiated new ‘rioting’ charges against the residents of
Ramabai Colony, including many who had been injured in the police
firing, in a cynical attempt to intimidate eyewitnesses. Despite
these efforts, finally on May 5, 2009, a sessions court found Kadam
guilty of culpable homicide and sentenced him to life imprisonment.
Kadam was whisked off — not to jail but to a hospital. There he
remained until a vacation bench of the Bombay High Court granted him
bail despite the fact that he was sentenced to life imprisonment. In
the last 12 years, after causing the death of 11 people, Kadam has
spent less than 48 hours in prison.
Let us revert to Sen. In March 2009, at his trial in Chhattisgarh,
Sen complained he was suffering from a heart ailment. An angry judge
ordered he be returned to his cell. The next day, the judge relented
and authorised a doctor to examine him. Despite the doctor’s report
that Sen be sent to a Vellore hospital for further diagnosis and a
possible angioplasty, no action was taken. The reply to a Right to
Information (RTI) query reveals that the police had sought to
intimidate him and get him to modify his findings.
What of our political system? After the Ramabai firing in 1997, Dalit
protests in various parts of Maharashtra led to many more deaths. The
poet, Vilas Ghogre, hanged himself not far from Ramabai Colony to
protest the firing. As Dalits throughout the state raised the ante,
the Congress and its allies saw an opportunity to defeat the ruling
Shiv Sena-BJP alliance. They publicly advocated punishing the guilty
police. Chhagan Bhujbal of the Nationalist Congress Party spent long
hours mourning with grieving relatives at Ramabai. After the
elections, he became home minister and was never seen at Ramabai again.
A few days ago, while arguing for Kadam’s bail, his advocate Raja
Thackeray stated in court that if Kadam was punished, no police
officer would ever obey an order to open fire for fear of legal
reprisal. Would he have said this if the police had been convicted of
wrongfully killing residents of Marine Drive or Malabar Hill? Most of
those killed at Ramabai were sanitation workers, domestic servants,
rickshaw-drivers, handcart-pullers and their relatives. Most of
Binayak Sen’s patients are poor adivasis. But for the massive
publicity his case received, it is clear that he, too, would have
suffered the fate of the powerless. Such is the law of this land.
Anand Patwardhan is a documentary filmmaker.
o o o
The Hindu, 6 July 2009
FROM ‘PERVERSION’ TO RIGHT TO LIFE WITH DIGNITY
by Kalpana Kannabiran
The Delhi High Court judgment makes the articulation of LGBT rights a
torchbearer for a more general understanding of discrimination,
oppression, social exclusion and the denial of liberty, on the one
hand, and the meaning of freedom and dignity, on the other.
“Constitutional morality is not a natural sentiment. It has to be
cultivated. We must realise that our people have yet to learn it.” —
B.R. Ambedkar quoted in para 79 of the Naz Foundation judgment.
The recent judgment of the Delhi High Court in the Naz Foundation
versus Government of NCT of Delhi and Others is a milestone in the
jurisprudence on diversity and pluralism in India. Importantly, it
also inaugurates intersectional jurisprudence that examines questions
of constitutionalism in relational terms that underscore
inclusiveness. By this token then, it is not merely a judgment that
bears significance for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender peoples (LGBT). It makes the articulation of LGBT rights
a torchbearer for a more general understanding of discrimination,
oppression, social exclusion and the denial of liberty, on the one
hand, and the meaning of freedom and dignity, on the other.
The Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of Human Rights Law in
Relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity launched on March
26, 2007 were drafted by experts from 25 countries representative of
all regions of the world. These principles delineate in painstaking
detail the obligation of states to respect, protect and fulfil the
human rights of all persons regardless of their sexual orientation or
gender identity. On December 18, 2008, the United Nations General
Assembly was presented with a statement endorsed by 66 states from
around the world reaffirming in substance the Yogyakarta principles.
It is these international efforts along with the movement for LGBT
rights within India that provided the context and arguments for the
decriminalisation of homosexuality.
Drawing on Dr. Ambedkar, the court rejected the argument that
homosexuality was contrary to public and popular morality in India,
upholding constitutional morality instead, the diffusion of which was
contingent on Dr. Ambedkar’s ideas of notional change, as evident in
the lines quoted above. To quote from the judgment: “The Constitution
of India recognises, protects and celebrates diversity. To stigmatise
or to criminalise homosexuals only on account of their sexual
orientation would be against the constitutional morality” (para 80).
Linked to this is the observation of the Court on the question of the
horizontal application of rights, with specific reference to Article
15(2), a barely remembered but critical part of Article 15: No
citizen shall obstruct another from access to public places on
grounds of caste, sex and other specified grounds (para 104). This
purposive and intersectional reading of Article 15(2), hitherto
restricted largely to practices of untouchability vis-À-vis Dalits,
opens out an important strategy in constitutional interpretation.
Applying the U.N. Human Rights framework to an understanding of
sexual orientation and gender identity, the judgment sets out three
categories: (a) non-discrimination; (b) protection of private rights;
and (c) the ensuring of special general human rights protection to
all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Perhaps the most important issue the judgment addresses is the
meaning of “sex” in Article 15(1) of the Constitution of India: “The
state shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of
religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.” Does the
term “sex” in this context refer to attribute or performance? Is sex
to be applied in a restricted fashion to gender or can the multiple
resonances of its common usage be taken into account, so that sex is
both gender (attribute) and sexual orientation (performance)? This is
particularly significant because, as the judgment demonstrates
through an extensive review of case law and principles from different
parts of the world, gender and sexual orientation are an intrinsic
and inalienable part of every human being; they are constituents of a
person’s identity. In the words of Justice Sachs of South Africa, the
constitution “acknowledges that people live in their bodies, their
communities, their cultures, their places and their times” (Sachs J.
in The National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality v. The
Minister of Justice). It is this composite identity of every person
that is affirmed through a nuanced reading of “sex” in Article 15(1):
“We hold that sexual orientation is a ground analogous to sex and
that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is not
permitted by Article 15 (Para 104).”
Justice P.N. Bhagwati’s delineation of the right to dignity in
Francis Coralie Mullin v. Administrator, Union Territory of Delhi and
others, that “the right to life includes the right to live with human
dignity and all that goes along with it, namely, the bare necessaries
of life, … expressing oneself in diverse forms, freely moving about
and mixing and commingling with fellow human beings,” provides the
starting point for the discussion on the importance of self-respect,
self-worth and privacy to human social life, recognised nationally
and internationally. And privacy is particularly important in the
area of sexual relationship where the thumb rule is simply that “[i]
f, in expressing our sexuality, we act consensually and without
harming one another, invasion of that precinct will be a breach of
our privacy (Paris Adult Theatre I v. Slaton, (413 US 49 (1973), page
The criminalisation of homosexuality, the judgment says, by
condemning in perpetuity an entire class of people, forcing them to
“live their lives in the shadow of harassment, exploitation,
humiliation, cruel and degrading treatment at the hands of the law
enforcement machinery” denies them “moral full citizenship (para
52).” Because Section 377 is aimed at criminalising private conduct
of consenting adults, the court held that it comes within the meaning
of discrimination, which “severely affects the rights and interests
of homosexuals and deeply impairs their dignity(para 93).” It is
“unfair and unreasonable and, therefore, in breach of Article 14 of
the Constitution of India (para 98).”
The right to public health is another aspect of human rights that is
seriously undermined through the criminalisation of same sex
behaviour. There are two parts to this right, both of which lead back
to the fundamental right to life under Article 21. The first is the
right to be healthy. In this context, the concerns of the National
AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) are pertinent. Fear of the law-
enforcement agencies obstructs disclosure, which in turn impedes HIV/
AIDS prevention programmes and increases the risk of infection in
The second part of the right to health is more expansive and includes
the right to control one’s health and body, the right to sexual and
reproductive freedom, the right against forced medical treatment and
the right to a system of health that offers equality of opportunity
in attaining the highest standard of health. While several documented
testimonies of LGBT persons speak of the treatment of their sexual
orientation as a psychiatric/mental disorder, the judgment
importantly affirms the findings worldwide that sexual orientation is
an expression of human sexuality — whether homosexual, heterosexual
or bisexual. “Compelling state interest,” instead of focussing on
public morality, the judgment says, “demands that public health
measures are strengthened by de-criminalisation of such activity, so
that they can be identified and better focused upon (para 86).”
Asserting that there is no presumption of constitutionality where a
colonial legislation is concerned, the judgment holds that Section
377 fails the test of “strict scrutiny” which would require
proportionality between the means used and the aim pursued. And when
it is a question of “matters of ‘high constitutional importance’”
like the rights of LGBT persons, the courts are obliged to discharge
their sovereign jurisdiction, in this case, reading Section 377 down
to apply only to child sexual abuse.
It is pertinent to point out here that the Andhra Pradesh (Telangana
Areas) Eunuchs Act specifically targets Eunuchs and Hijras in far
more direct ways than Section 377 does. We hope that the momentum of
the movement for LGBT rights will turn its full force on obsolete
legislation like this as well, so that transgender communities in
areas where such laws are in force begin to enjoy the fullest
freedoms and life with dignity.
(Kalpana Kannabiran is a sociologist based in Secunderabad.)
o o o
The Washington Post
A 'COMMON FRONT' FOR THE MARGINALIZED IN INDIA: GAY ACTIVIST WORKS TO
BUILD BROAD-BASED POLITICAL PARTY
Participants at a gay pride parade last month in New Delhi, above,
call for overturning a 1860 statute known as Section 377 that deems
homosexuality illegal. On Thursday, as gay rights rallies were held
in major cities, including Calcutta, top, the Delhi High Court ruled
to decriminalize homosexuality. (Gurinder Osan - AP) http://
(By Sucheta Das -- Associated Press)
by Emily Wax
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, July 6, 2009
BANGALORE, India -- Popping out of an auto rickshaw, Manohar
Elavarthi unloaded a backpack stuffed with protest posters. Soon he
would be rushing to a street demonstration, one that would bring
together low-caste Dalit activists, Gandhians, cross-dressers and
members of domestic workers unions.
Elavarthi aspires to be the first openly gay man elected to a major
political office in India, like Harvey Milk in the United States.
Elavarthi is credited with being the first gay figure in India to
build a mainstream political coalition across a wide spectrum of
historically marginalized groups.
"Our dream for Indian politics is to build a common front of
lesbians, untouchables, eunuchs and low-paid workers -- people who
really need a voice in this country," said Elavarthi, who has
received death threats for his views, largely from right-wing
religious groups and police. "India -- the new India -- is really
changing. We need to build a party around social justice for
minorities. It would be a sign that India is a true secular democracy."
India, a nation of 1.1 billion people, is in the midst of an
unprecedented debate over homosexuality, part of a wave of social
change led by the younger generation in this traditional society.
Modern India's youths are more economically mobile and independent
than any generation before. Across the country, there is growing
political pressure from a diverse coalition of college and law
students, activists, artists and even mainstream politicians to
overturn laws banning homosexuality.
In a groundbreaking ruling issued Thursday, the Delhi High Court
decriminalized homosexuality. The court decision overturning an 1860
British-era statute applies only to New Delhi, the capital. But
activists expect it to influence courts across the country. On
Thursday, celebrations were held in the streets of major cities.
"From last night I haven't been able to sleep. While I sat in court,
there were butterflies in my stomach. I just prayed to God," said
Pamela Mitra, 28, a transvestite who wore a green-and-white salwar-
kameez, the traditional tunic-and-pants ensemble, in New Delhi. "Over
the years, my community has faced sexual harassment and blackmail
from police. These atrocities are everyday affairs for us. We are
humans. Today has affirmed this notion. I feel like crying, dancing,
screaming and smiling all at once."
In a major shift, the government recently called a meeting of top
officials to talk about the 150-year-old statute, known as Section
377. New Cabinet ministers appointed after the recent elections could
bring "new thinking" on the law, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said
last week, the Indian Express newspaper reported.
Although some ruling party politicians are inclined to overturn the
ban, opposition parties argue that decriminalizing gay sex will lead
to aberrant behavior.
Those in favor of amending the law argue that it violates human
rights enshrined in the constitution. They also say that keeping gays
closeted limits awareness about safe sex. HIV/AIDS affects an
estimated 2.5 million people in India.
In the last weekend of June, hundreds of gay rights supporters danced
and marched in the sweaty summer heat of New Delhi and in the
southern cities of Chennai and Bangalore. One parent held up a sign
that read "Proud Mother." Some young Indians chanted "Long Live
Queeristan." Others sang "Gay Ho" to the tune of "Jai Ho," the
megahit from the Oscar-winning movie "Slumdog Millionaire."
Cross-dressing men were decked out in sparkling saris and nose rings.
It was the second year for the pride parades, and more people
attended this time around. A fresh crowd of younger gay activists and
heterosexual supporters of the cause reportedly organized the event.
In Bangalore and outlying rural areas, Elavarthi organized a week-
long slate of events in the run-up to the marches, including the
country's first gay cricket match, a dialogue with Dalit leaders, a
seminar on religion and sexual minorities, and several film
screenings and mixers in villages.
The gay rights movement in India was once dominated by artists and
members of the upper castes. But the movement now seems to be
breaking down class divisions and uniting youth culture around human
The marches were held just before the Delhi High Court issued its
decision. The effort to repeal Section 377 was seen as a test of
India's commitment to secular democracy, with some legal experts
saying that religious arguments should not trump constitutional
rights in a democratic society.
For centuries, the transgender community in India enjoyed some social
acceptance under the cultural traditions of Hinduism and Islam. Some
tribal groups see lesbians as having mystical powers. But European
missionaries and British colonial rulers demonized homosexuality. The
country's pulpits are still bastions of anti-gay rhetoric. In recent
years, right-wing Hindu groups have also come out against
homosexuality, saying that traditional Indian home life is under threat.
"We don't need to mess with Section 377," said Vasanth Kumar Bhavani,
32, president of Bangalore's branch of Sri Ram Sene, a right-wing
Hindu group. "All of these things are against Indian traditions."
In daily life, gay Indians suffer forced marriages, high depression
rates, physical assault and blackmail -- often by police and
underground rings on the Internet. In this nation where most families
with the means hire domestic help, middle- and upper-class gay
Indians wake up early to move separately into different rooms before
household staff arrive.
In much of India, parents still choose their children's future
spouses, taking into account factors such as caste, skin tone, class
and religion. But in some pockets, young Indians -- especially
professionals living away from their parents -- have the freedom to
decide for themselves.
Elavarthi was born to a farming family in a village in southern
India. By the time he finished high school, he said, he knew he was
attracted to men. He later realized he was bisexual. "But I dared not
tell anyone," he said.
After moving to the sprawling city of Mumbai, Elavarthi found a male
lover and started living with him.
Elavarthi quickly became an activist and started a counseling center.
He also founded a group called Sabrang, which means "all colors" in
Hindi. The group reaches out to people from non-English-speaking
backgrounds and from lower castes. Elavarthi said he hopes to run for
office in next year's local elections and encourage other young gays
and lesbians to do the same.
Sometimes though, he worries for his life.
"I take such joy that things are changing in India," Elavarthi said.
"But I also keep in mind my favorite quotation, 'A victim who can
articulate his victimization ceases to be a victim; he becomes a
threat.' " With that, he hailed a rickshaw and was off to his next
o o o
(in the aftermath of Indian Court Overturning Gay Sex Ban)
CATHOLIC, MUSLIM, HINDU MORAL POLICE UNITED IN HOMOPHOBIA : CARTOON
IN MAIL TODAY, 6 JULY 2009
 Right and Wrong in India's Secular Republic
INDIA: MAHARASHTRA GOVT'S UNACCEPTABLE PROBE INTO INTER-RELIGIOUS
o o o
6 July 2009
COMMENT: WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO PUNISH VARUN GANDHI
THE sanction granted by the Uttar Pradesh government for prosecution
of Bharatiya Janata Party leader Varun Gandhi under Section 153A of
the Indian Penal Code — for promoting enmity between religious groups
— should occasion no surprise considering that this government had
earlier invoked the stringent National Security Act against him. And
the move is very much in order. Varun Gandhi, as is well known, not
just made hate speeches against a minority community in Pilibhit in
the course of campaigning as a Lok Sabha candidate but later turned
his arrest for the offences into a victory rally of sorts. His
supporters ran amok in Pilibhit, attacking policemen and damaging
Had our laws empowered the Election Commission of India to debar such
candidates from contesting elections, Varun Gandhi would not have
made it to Parliament this time. But nothing of the sort happened. He
got parole from the Supreme Court of India for electoral campaigning
and even the order invoking the National Security Act against him was
later revoked. The result is that despite committing what were grave
offences, he won the elections from Pilibhit and has since been
projecting himself as a future leader of the BJP. The very acts that
should have kept him in jail have catapulted him to a position of
importance in the public space.
It would be a travesty of the legal process if this was not checked.
And that is precisely what the two criminal cases filed against him
will do if carried to their logical conclusion. With forensic tests
establishing that the CDs of the hate speeches indeed contain Varun’s
voice, the prosecution should not find it a problem to prove its
case. Convicting a pedigreed politician — who could get a three year
term in jail — will send out the message that there is a price to pay
 India's Budget Announced : Appreciation and Criticism
[ Steep 34% hike in defence budget - Up to $29 Billion => http://
INDIA’S BUDGET 2009-10: A PRELIMINARY NOTE
by Sukla Sen
o o o
Asian Age, 6 July 2009
BUDGET TICKS FOOD-WORK POLL PROMISES WITH PALTRY SUMS
by Jayati Ghosh
July.07 : The first Budget presented by the United Progressive
Alliance (UPA) government since being re-elected to office was
supposed to send a signal of its intentions. Of course, there were
wide differences about what that signal would be. There were those
who argued that since the UPA government no longer has to rely on
outside support from the Left, it will finally be able to implement
all the market-friendly and corporate-oriented policies that big
business and other elements have been asking for, such as large-scale
privatisation, further tax cuts and financial liberalisation.
Others argued that the political mandate of this government is based
on a completely different set of assurances, which it is the duty of
the government to implement. After all, the Congress Party that leads
this UPA government had made many electoral promises to aam aadmi on
increasing employment, ensuring food security to all, comprehensive
social security to those in the unorganised sector, improving public
health provision and guaranteeing the right to education. These are
not only necessary and desirable in themselves, but also effective
forms of countercyclical spending that can make a positive difference
during the economic downswing.
The Budget presented by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee was a bit
of a surprise since it did not seem to send either of these signals.
There was talk in the Budget speech of privatisation of state-owned
assets (sugar-coated in the coy phrase "people’s participation" in
public sector undertakings) but there is no estimate of likely
earning incorporated in the projected receipts of the government.
Some tax cuts have been announced — raising of income-tax exemption
limits and removal of the surcharge, abolition of fringe benefit tax
and commodity transaction tax — but these have been counterbalanced
by an increase in the minimum alternate tax paid by companies, from
10 to 15 per cent of profits. But these measures are not really
enough to gladden the hearts of committed liberalisers.
On the other side, those looking for relief for the common people and
fulfilment of election promises are also likely to be disappointed.
The allocations provided for in this Budget for social sectors and
flagship programmes are so low as to suggest lack of seriousness on
the part of the government in meeting its own stated objectives.
Take, for example, the flagship programme based on the National Rural
Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) which is widely credited with being
a major cause of the electoral success of the Congress. The finance
minister promised to increase the minimum wage rate under this scheme
to Rs 100 per day (from Rs 80) and assumed that it would provide a
minimum of 100 days of employment to every rural household, up from
the 45 days that is currently provided. This would require a
significant increase — even a doubling — in funds to NREGA,
especially if it is also to be implemented in every rural block in
the country. But the allocation in the Budget is only Rs 39,100
crores, which is a paltry increase of Rs 2,350 crores over the amount
spent last year.
Similarly, the government has promised a law (and associated scheme)
to ensure food security to all, especially vulnerable groups. But the
allocation for food subsidy in the Budget is only Rs 8,862 more than
what was spent last year, and most of this is already accounted for
by the increase in Minimum Support Prices for the rabi harvest.
Additional funds will clearly be necessary to make such a law
effective. But by reducing the amount given to poor households at a
lower price, from 35 to 25 kg per month, the finance minister already
indicated that genuine food security may not be the aim.
On education, the Budget allocations are truly surprising. The Right
to Education Bill has been tabled in Parliament and is due to become
law quite soon, entitling every child in the country to good quality
education up to the age of 14 years. This will necessarily require
significant financial inputs from the Centre. But the proposed
increase in spending on elementary education is less than Rs 200
crores, which suggests a complete lack of seriousness about
implementation. Secondary education gets an increase of only Rs 2,000
crores, while higher education gets double that amount.
More than three years ago, the Supreme Court required the Central
government to universalise the Integrated Child Development Scheme,
and several deadlines set for this have passed. To do this properly
would require at least around Rs 12,000 crores — but the total
budgetary allocation is still only around Rs 6,000 crores, a measly
six per cent increase in nominal terms from the previous year’s
A major gap in the Budget is the lack of adequate resources for
agricultural regeneration, especially in the context of last year’s
disappointing harvest and this year’s uncertain monsoon. The increase
in proposed spending on agriculture is only Rs 1,588 crores, and on
agricultural research and extension less than Rs 300 crores. Focusing
on bank lending to agriculture is just not good enough: more than
half the farmers in the country do not have access to any
institutional credit, and in any case the real problem is that of
ensuring the viability of cultivation in terms of amount and costs of
inputs relative to quantity and prices of crops. This requires a
systematic package that will necessarily require more resources, but
there is no such generosity displayed to the largest group of
economic agents in the country, at least compared to the favours
shown to large companies that have been hit by the slowdown.
One thing is clear: if the government really wants to do what it has
promised to the people, it will have to spend more. But that is
difficult because it has tied its own hands by continuing with the
supposedly temporary tax cuts and other incentives to corporates that
were introduced in the wake of the global crisis. So the chances are
that when the need to increase social spending becomes pressing, the
government will engage in blatant sleight of hand by selling off
shares in public enterprises to finance such spending.
This is sad not only because it smells of subterfuge. It will deprive
the state of resources from its own profit-making enterprises and
prevent the public sector undertakings from serving the needs of
society as a whole rather than a privileged few.
But maybe that is already part and parcel of the government’s
behaviour. Given the various tax and other measures in this Budget
that disproportionately benefit one particular group of companies
dealing in petroleum and petrochemicals, one could be forgiven for
thinking that this is not a Budget for aam aadmi so much as for some
vishesh aadmi or group.
 Tributes: Tyeb Mehta - (1925-2009)
(I) TYEB MEHTA : A MESSAGE FROM SAFDAR HASHMI MEMORIAL TRUST -
SAHMAT (JULY 4, 2009)
We were deeply saddened by the passing of Tyeb Mehta in Mumbai. A
great artist whose art expressed the anguish of witnessing violence
in our times. Tyeb was an artist of quiet humility, yet was vocal and
public in his stand against communal violence and in his support of
human rights and the freedom of expression. He drew by hand the huge
backdrop of SAHMAT's Artists Against Communalism cultural sit-in in
Shivaji Park, Mumbai in 1992. We enclose an image of Sitara Devi and
Astad Deboo dancing before this backdrop, and Hariprasad Chaurasia
playing his flute. Even as he grew frail in recent years, he came to
the protest at Jehangir Art Gallery when the BJP attacked the student
review in the Art Department at MS University in Baroda. And
recently, he was proactive and very generous in donating his work to
the art auction in aid of the Sabrang trust run by Teesta Setalvad
and Javed Anand.
SAHMAT expresses its condolences to Sakina, Yusuf, Himani and their
(II) TYEB MEHTA, PAINTER OF EMERGING INDIA, DIES AT 84
by Holland Cotter (New York Times, July 4, 2009)
 International Section:
ABORTION SERVICES CENSORED OUT ON GOOGLE ADWORDS: SIGN ON THE LETTER
TO PROTEST TO GOOGLE
A siawi.org Alert
According to the Health Equity and Law Clinic of the University of
Toronto, Google is stopping access to details of abortion clinics
through its web system.
Under the Revised Policy, Google AdWords will no longer accept ads
that promote abortion services and that target any of the following
countries: Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia,
Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Singapore, Spain,
or Taiwan. ’Abortion services’ include, but are not limited to,
abortion clinics and abortion counselors.
This a very powerful anti-abortion gesture indeed.
It is also an attack on secularism that reflects the lobbying power
of religious fundamentalist forces.
siawi.org calls on all secularists to join the protest and to force
Google to come back on its new policy. Please forward these news and
the appeal below to as many people as possible.
Women on Waves have taken the lead in this struggle. The letter below
is to protest this and as many signatories as possible are needed. If
you wish to sign it, please write to:
Rebecca Gomperts =>: gomperts (at) womenonwaves.org
with your name, organisation and contact details.
From: rebecca gomperts [ gomperts (at) womenonwaves.org]
Sent: 24 June 2009 13:36
Subject: [worldbytes] signatures for letter to google
Dear worldbytes members,
The Health Equity and Law Clinic of the University of Toronto wrote
the following letter for Google on behalf of Women on Waves.
It concerns the recent Google policy to restrict adds for abortion
related information and services in certain countries.
We are looking for reproductive rights organizations who would like
to co-sign the letter in order to increase the impact of the letter
If you would like to sign, please email me your name, organization
Thanks a lot
On behalf of Women on Waves
Google Inc. Legal Department
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043
Google AdWords, Google Ann Arbor
201 S. Division St., Suite 500
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
To: The Google AdWords Team and the Google Inc. Legal Department
Re: Google AdWords Advertising Policy Update: Restricting
Advertisements that Promote Abortion Services
We are writing on behalf of Women on Waves (“WOW”), a non-profit
organization providing health services and sexual education to
prevent unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortions, and the Health
Equity and Law Clinic, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, an
academic clinic specializing in reproductive and sexual health law
and policy. This letter concerns a change to Google Adwords policy
respecting the advertising of abortion services.
On September 17, 2008, WOW received notice of a Google AdWords
Advertising Policy Update (“Revised Policy”).[ii][i] Under the
Revised Policy, Google AdWords will:
no longer accept ads that promote abortion services and that target
any of the following countries: Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany,
Hong Kong, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Philippines,
Poland, Singapore, Spain, or Taiwan. ’Abortion services’ include, but
are not limited to, abortion clinics and abortion counselors.
While we acknowledge much consideration was given to your decision on
the advertising of abortion services and the potential effect of the
Revised Policy, we request the policy be reviewed for the following
1. The effects of the Revised Policy for persons other than
Adwords advertisers. We are concerned about the adverse effect of the
Revised Policy for women seeking safe and lawful abortion services.
By restricting access to information, the Revised Policy may
contribute to unsafe abortion in a manner inconsistent with human
1. The justification for the Revised Policy. We understand that
Google may refuse or terminate any advertisement at any time and for
any reason. Given the adverse impact of the Revised Policy on human
rights to safe abortion, a reasoned justification in this instance is
warranted but lacking.
We believe these reasons merit the rescission of the Revised Policy.
Google plays an important role in the protection of human rights.
Through participation in the Global Network Initiative and other
programs, Google has demonstrated its commitment to protect access to
information as a human right consistent with internationally
recognized laws and standards. These include the human rights
outlined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights[iii][ii] among other international treaties.
Given the impact of the Revised Policy on human rights to safe
abortion, we respectfully request the policy be reviewed and
rescinded. If following your review, Google decides there are reasons
to maintain the Revised Policy we request these reasons be publicly
disclosed. Justification for the Revised Policy avoids an adverse
inference that Google is acting without concern for the human rights
impact of its policies.
1. The Adverse Impact of the Revised Policy on Human Rights to Safe
We are concerned about the adverse effect of the Revised Policy for
women seeking safe and lawful abortion services. By restricting
access to information, the Revised Policy may contribute to unsafe
abortion in a manner inconsistent with internationally recognized
Unsafe abortion is a major cause of maternal mortality and morbidity
worldwide. Every year an estimated seventy thousand women die and
five million more women suffer with disability from unsafe abortion.
[iv][iii] Many women who resort to unsafe abortion live in countries
where abortion is lawful under certain conditions, such as where
necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman or to protect her
physical and mental health. Women resort to unsafe abortion because
they cannot access safe services to which they are lawfully entitled
within the health system.[v][iv] Unsafe abortion is a consequence of
access barriers to safe and lawful services.
Access to health services without discrimination is an essential
component of the rights to health and equality under international
law.[vi][v] Women’s right to health includes an entitlement to access
services specific to their health needs. It is discriminatory under
international law to restrict the promotion or provision of
appropriate health services for women, including those related to
reproductive health, and to obstruct action taken by women in pursuit
of their health goals.[vii][vi] Given the Revised Policy restricts
advertising on abortion services, sex-specific health care, its
adverse impact is borne exclusively by women thereby raising equality
Access to information – the right to seek, receive and impart
information on health issues – is a key determinant of access to
health care.[viii][vii] This is especially true respecting access to
abortion services. Many women seek unsafe abortion because they lack
access to information on the legal status of abortion and the
availability of services.
Women and health providers in many countries are uninformed about the
legal status of abortion, the conditions under which it is lawful.[ix]
[viii] Many wrongly believe that abortion is prohibited by criminal
law in all circumstances. Despite satisfying the conditions for
lawful abortion, women are unfairly denied services and/or seek
unsafe services in clandestine settings.[x][ix]
The stigmatization of abortion, attributable in part to its criminal
regulation, also deters women from inquiring about the availability
of services. Women may be reluctant to request services for fear of
health provider judgment or refusal, and public disclosure and
retribution from families and communities. Many women for this reason
do not consult their regular health providers and seek care outside
their communities. They are without traditional sources of health
information. Recognizing the vulnerability of women seeking inter-
jurisdictional access to abortion services, the European Court of
Human Rights has emphasized the right to impart and receive
information on abortion services as essential to ensuring women’s
health and well-being.[xi][x]
Advertisements on abortion services can be a valuable source of
information on both the legal status of abortion and the availability
of services, and thus a crucial measure to mitigate access barriers
to safe and lawful abortion. International law recognizes
advertisements as a protected media for the exchange of information.
The United States Supreme Court, in holding a law that restricted
advertisements promoting abortion services as unconstitutional,
recognized that such advertisements contained factual material of
public interest.[xiii][xii] The advertisement did not merely inform
readers of available commercial services, valuable information
itself. Viewed in its entirety, the advertisement conveyed
information about the subject matter including the law on abortion.
The mere existence of the services, the possibility that the
advertiser was typical of other organizations and the availability of
the services, was important information. Recent reform in the United
Kingdom on television advertisement of abortion services was
similarly motivated by the public health need for access to full and
complete information on abortion services.[xiv][xiii]
The internet is a primary health information source. It is of
particular importance to individuals who lack access to traditional
sources of health information, require confidential and timely access
to information and seek services outside of their communities. Online
advertisements that promote abortion services can improve access to
information on the legal status of abortion and the availability of
lawful services, and can thereby reduce recourse to unsafe abortion.
Vehicles such as a Google Adwords moreover increase the credibility
of information sources, defined in terms of their expertise and
trustworthiness. The service facilitates access to relevant
information by isolating the advertisement and the availability of
services from a string of search engine results, which in the case of
a political and social issue such as abortion may be overwhelming for
an individual woman seeking services.[xv][xiv]
By restricting access to information on safe and lawful abortion, the
Revised Policy may thus contribute to unsafe abortion in a manner
inconsistent with human rights under international law.
2. Justification for the Revised Policy and its Adverse Human Rights
Given the human rights impact of the Revised Policy, we believe that
a reasoned justification for the policy is warranted. Google’s
decision on the advertising of abortion services may have been
informed by the following considerations:
A. the criminal regulation of abortion,
B. abortion as a high-risk health service,
C. legal restrictions on the advertisement or promotion of abortion
D. government or other political pressure.
Careful analysis demonstrates these considerations cannot justify the
Revised Policy and its adverse human rights impact.
A. The Criminal Regulation of Abortion
The Revised Policy may have been informed by the criminal regulation
of abortion in the target countries, and the concern that acceptance
of advertisements promoting abortion services may be construed as
promotion or the aiding and abetting of criminal activity.
Rather than illicit activity, counseling and information about
abortion services, even where criminally restricted, is regarded as
an important component of harm reduction and safe abortion
initiatives. The Ministry of Health in Uruguay, for example, has
enacted guidelines that allow health providers to provide information
and counseling about abortion to women ineligible to receive lawful
More importantly, in all target countries of the Revised Policy
abortion services are lawful under certain conditions.[xvii][xvi] A
blanket restriction on advertisements that promote abortion services
for reason of their criminal status is therefore unjustified. Women
are entitled by law to access abortion services albeit under a set of
regulated conditions. The target countries in this respect cannot be
distinguished from the many countries, such as the United Kingdom, to
which the Revised Policy does not extend. Abortion is a lawful and
legitimate health service in all of the target countries.
B. Abortion as a High-Risk Health Service
The Revised Policy may have been informed by evidence of maternal
mortality and morbidity related to unsafe abortion, and thus concern
about accepting advertisements that promote a high-risk health
service. It is necessary, however, to distinguish between unsafe and
Unsafe abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by
individuals without the necessary skills or in an environment that
does not conform to minimum medical standards, or both.[xviii][xvii]
When appropriately regulated and provided by skilled persons under
conditions that meet medical standards, abortion is a safe, low-risk
procedure, safer than pregnancy and childbirth.[xix][xviii]
The Revised Policy may have been directed to particular concerns
about online abortion services, the sale of abortifacients or
medicines for use in pregnancy termination. As a non-invasive
alternative to surgical abortion, medication abortion is widely
regarded as having significantly improved access to safe abortion. It
is safe and effective, with few serious complications and success
rates of 95–98%.[xx][xix]
Medication abortion, moreover, is an especially important innovation
for safe abortion because it may be delivered by a more diverse set
of providers in a range of health settings. Research demonstrates
that outcomes of services provided through telemedicine (provision of
medicines, counseling and information through the internet) are
comparable with results reported in studies on medication abortion in
A restriction on advertisements that promote abortion services for
reason of safety is therefore unjustified. The Revised Policy is over-
inclusive insofar as it restricts access to information on safe
health services. It is also under-inclusive. Safety concerns about
the online sale of medicines is not limited to abortion services, but
of equal relevance to all health services. Ensuring the safe
provision and use of online health services is a legitimate concern,
and we encourage Google to develop a tailored policy directed to this
C. Legal Restrictions on the Advertisement or Promotion of Abortion
The Revised Policy may have been implemented because of domestic laws
or policies respecting the advertisement of abortion services in the
target countries. Some (e.g. Brazil and France) but not all target
countries have laws specific to the advertisement of abortion
services. No target country, however, absolutely prohibits the
advertisement of abortion services. Advertisements are permissible in
Brazil, for example, where the conditions under which abortion is
lawful are appropriately indicated.[xxii][xxi] This policy recognizes
that under certain conditions abortion services are lawful and should
be treated without distinction from other health services. Rather
than an absolute prohibition against advertisements that promote
abortion services, the Revised Policy should reflect a similar
flexible standard. The Revised Policy in this respect is inconsistent
with Google Adwords’ general policy on advertisements subject to
legal regulation, which states that it is the responsibility of the
advertiser to ensure that its advertisements are in full compliance
with the applicable domestic law.[xxiii][xxii] There is no clear
reason why the same approach cannot be applied to abortion service
advertisements, which may be subject to different legal regulation
D. Government or other Political Pressure
The Revised Policy may have been informed by government policies that
abortion, even when lawful, should not be promoted as a health
service. Such policies are often based on the mistaken assumption
that greater access to information and services will increase
abortion rates. Evidence confirms that increased access to safe and
lawful abortion does not increase the number of abortions nor lead
women to use abortion as an alternative to contraception for family
planning. Rather it ensures that a greater number of abortions are
Such policies are more importantly inconsistent with human rights
principles. Individuals should not be denied access to information as
a measure to change health-seeking behaviour. Women are entitled as
of right to information about all safe and lawful health services,
including those related to reproductive and sexual health. We believe
that Google shares this conception of access to information as a
fundamental human right.
The lack of reasoned justification for the Revised Policy given its
impact on human rights to safe abortion merits its rescission. We
thus respectfully request in light of Google’s demonstrated
commitment to protect access to information as a human right that the
Revised Policy be reviewed and rescinded. If Google decides there are
reasons not addressed in this letter to maintain the Revised Policy,
we would appreciate your sharing these reasons with us.
We look forward to your response and appreciate your time and
gomperts (at) womenonwaves.org
Women on Waves Foundation
P.O. Box 15683, 1001 ND Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Phone: +31 20 465 0004, Fax: +31 20 465 0004
joanna.erdman (at) utoronto.ca
susan.newell (at) utoronto.ca
Health Equity and Law Clinic
Faculty of Law, University of Toronto
78 Queen’s Park, Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Phone: 416-946-3755, Fax: 416-978-2648
The undersigned organizations support this letter and its request
that the Revised Policy be reviewed and rescinded.
1. Name, Organization, Contact Info
2. Name, Organization, Contact Info
DIALOGUE ON TRANSBOUNDARY WATER MANAGEMENT: ISSUES AND CONCERNS
14 July 2007
IUCN Bangladesh Country Office,
Fax: 880 –2 – 9892854
o o o
The International Conference on Peace & Reconciliation
EMBRACING THE DISPLACED: SHAPING THEORIES AND PRACTICES FOR A
July 7-10, 2009 at the University of California, Los Angeles
There are no simple explanations for the causes, processes and
results of international or regional conflicts: social, economic,
territorial, political, ethnic and racial issues may all play a role.
And religion is a contributing factor in many conflicts. Indeed, many
see it as one of the most potent and dangerous ingredients.
Such conflicts not only lead to tragic loss of life (often on an
unimaginable scale) but also to the displacement and forced migration
of people. The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates
there are currently 32.9 million people worldwide who have been
forced from their homes, some displaced within their own country,
many forced to flee as refugees to another. Their sufferings do not
end there. They are often treated with inhumanity or indifference by
the global community and with hostility or suspicion locally.
For lasting and sustainable peace it is not only imperative that the
conflicts cease; just and practical solutions have to be found for
these displaced and wounded people.
KEYNOTE SPEAKERS -
Dr. Guido Ambroso: UNHCR Tanzania with responsibility for refugees
from Burundi and Congo
Professor Mark Juergensmeyer: Director, Orfalea Centre for Global &
International Studies University of California Santa Barbara
Dr. Elizabeth Ferris: Brookings Institute, Washington DC; Senior
Fellow, Foreign Policy & Co-Director, Brookings-Bern Project on
Professor Yoon Young-Kwan: Department of International Relations,
Seoul National University, South Korea
Revd. Lee Chul-Shin: Senior Pastor, Young Nak Presbyterian Church,
Seoul, South Korea
Asia Institute • 11288 Bunche Hall • Los Angeles, CA 90095-1487
Campus Mail Code: 148703 • Tel: (310) 825-0007 • Fax: (310) 206-3555
Email: asia at international.ucla.edu
S o u t h A s i a C i t i z e n s W i r e
Buzz for secularism, on the dangers of fundamentalism(s), on
matters of peace and democratisation in South
Asia. An offshoot of South Asia Citizens Web: www.sacw.net/
DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed in materials carried in the posts do not
necessarily reflect the views of SACW compilers.
More information about the SACW